Okay; quick question for you:
What is Aleppo?
With all the issues and responsibilities you have on your mind, did you nevertheless immediately recognize Aleppo as a key battleground city in Syria?
If not, you'd be forgiven if the correct answer didn't trip off the tip of your tongue. After all, you're not running for president, and nobody expects you to be a foreign policy expert. Unless, of course, you happen to actually make your living professing to be a foreign policy expert!
But what about Gary Johnson, this year's Libertarian candidate for president of the United States? Do you think Johnson should recognize the name "Aleppo" when a reporter asks him about it in an interview?
As much as most of us tend to dislike both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, neither of these presidential candidates has failed to recognize the name Aleppo. And it could be argued that Trump, particularly, is about as much of a foreign policy expert as I am, or you are! (With apologizes if you actually are a foreign policy expert, of course!)
Our recognition of Aleppo shows how cognizant many of us are about Syria's civil war these days. Even though hardly anybody seems to understand that mess, we've seen or heard enough about it to recognize the name Aleppo. It's where much of the heaviest fighting has taken place. It's where that compelling photo of the cute little boy covered in dust and blood was taken.
"The boy from Aleppo." Remember?
If you don't, that's still OK. You're not running for president. But Gary Johnson is. And if he wins the presidency, he'll have to be in charge of America's response to the Syrian crisis starting this winter.
Obviously, he's not ready to do that.
This morning, on MSNBC's program "Morning Joe," a reporter asked Johnson point blank, "What would you do, if you were elected, about Aleppo?"
Johnson's face was blank. "About Aleppo... and what is Aleppo?"
Oooh... and this is the guy for whom I was considering voting, since I can't bring myself to vote for either Hillary or Trump.
And this isn't the only red flag I've found regarding Johnson. I've known that he's a social liberal, but I'm learning how deeply his social liberalism runs. And I'm learning that he's not as much of a fiscal conservative as most Libertarians are.
For one thing, Johnson has decided that the federal government should enforce immunizations upon our children. Now, I'm not a parent, but if I was, and my wife was amenable to it, we'd probably have our children immunized. But I absolutely do not want our federal government forcing kids to be immunized. That is a family decision, or a school district decision, or at the very most, a state decision, depending perhaps on the ecological climate in that state.
I would think a Libertarian would be adamantly against such a big-government idea as forced immunizations. Not Johnson, however.
But wait, there's more:
- Johnson is a proponent of legalizing marijuana for recreational use. He's even been president of a recreational marijuana company. I didn't know that before this summer. Did you?
- When asked, during a Libertarian convention, whether America's involvement in World War II was moral, Johnson said "I don't know."
- In 1995, Johnson began a two-term stint as New Mexico's governor. At the beginning of his governorship, New Mexico's budget was $4.4 billion, but at the end of his governorship, it had ballooned to $7.7 billion! The state's spending had nearly doubled in eight years. That's simply atrocious.
- Johnson seems willing to sacrifice religious liberty in favor of gay rights. He's also publicly mocked Mormonism (of which I've no fan either) by conjuring the obscure 1857 Mountain Meadows massacre as a reason to deny religious freedom. Johnson ended up backpedalling on the Mormon thing, but he's as bad as Trump when it comes to talking before thinking. In fact, Johnson seems to spend almost as much time trying apologize for things he says as he does dithering his way through his original quotes.
Indeed, as the media begins to give him more coverage, Johnson appears increasingly uncomfortable trying to explain his views. He verbally wanders around issues and doubles back repeatedly on concepts and facts that many of us already acknowledge - all the while avoiding an answer or opinion. If this apparent lack of sophistication in dealing with the press is to be appealing to voters, Johnson has to at least offer relevant observations or stinging critiques of the status quo. But he's not doing that.
Indeed, one of the reasons Trump has scored so much popularity involves his impatience with conventional media interviews. But Johnson isn't even impatient. He seems completely unprepared.
It's like he doesn't realize that this grand national interview he's begun is for the presidency of the United States of America. We're not interviewing him to run another marijuana marketing company.
Granted, many Libertarians probably believe that Big Government has no business regulating marijuana, so Johnson's stance isn't particularly surprising. But neither is it a healthy stance when it comes to America's executive office. I don't mind legalizing marijuana for medical use in extreme cases where the prognosis is dire and the options of pain reduction or brain destruction are fairly irrelevant. But science has proven that marijuana does indeed damage the brain. So our government has no business encouraging its recreational use.
And Johnson's impertinence regarding the morality of World War II could be considered a reflection of the conventional Libertarian aversion to participating in wars on other shores. But Pearl Harbor, the Holocaust, and America's need to control Russia's expansionism (hold your friends close, and your enemies even closer) provide easy answers for why even Libertarians - and especially their presidential candidate - should have little trouble defending America's involvement on a purely practical basis.
So Johnson isn't looking like a very good alternative to either Hillary or Trump after all. And I'm going to stop recommending that voters consider his candidacy. I'm not voting for him, so why should you? I was never enthralled with him; I merely considered his viability more robust than I'm learning it really is.
This doesn't mean I've resigned myself to voting for either Hillary or Trump. They're still both as unsuitable for the presidency as they were before I started learning this stuff about Johnson. I've simply got more work to do in trying to figure out how to vote this fall. And the clock is ticking. Can you believe we're already well into September?
You don't happen to know of any decent presidential candidate out there, do you?
Doesn't have to be particularly smart or ethical. After all, our standards aren't as high as they used to be.